The Mayor of Osaka Does Not Speak For Japan


The rather unfortunate remarks made by the mayor of the Japanese city of Osaka do not signal a return of Japanese militarism or nationalism. They are the byproduct of democracy and stupidity; in a democracy, you are free to say stupid things all day long. If they voters want to kick you out of office, that's up to them.

There is a curious mindset that exists among a minority of Japanese, and that is the idea that they can say whatever they want about the war and expect to get away with being ignorant. You would think that they would be more savvy. These remarks are anything but that. They are red meat for Japan's neighbors.

Hashimoto does touch on something that has been bothering me lately, and this surrounds the use of prostitutes to keep people in the military in some sort of order and some level of comfort. These are reprehensible ideas, of course. Whether we are talking about the "comfort women" or the "joy division," this is the trafficking and dehumanization of women for the express purposes of a nationalistic ideal--the reward of the nation to the soldiers.

The U.S. military has a severe issue with sexual assaults and rape. One answer that will not work is to bring prostitutes to the war zones where American troops are deployed. The American people will not tolerate such a thing nor will they pay for it. Some of the things that might help center around protecting women in certain areas. When I was stationed in South Korea, the female barracks were off limits. Segregating vulnerable populations is not popular but it might be a common sense alternative to subjecting women to situations that are risky. A buddy system or an escort system might help as well. What would also help are commanders and NCOs who respond the correct way to threats and actual assaults rather than hiding them or dismissing them out of hand. The Inspector General could play a more specific role in ensuring assaults are properly investigated and punished.

As more and more women go into line units and into populations that are overwhelmingly male, they face being assaulted. Deterring these assaults requires a legal transformation of how the military responds to women when they report an assault. It has to be fair, transparent, and responsive. Outdated mindsets have to be attacked for the ignorance on which they are based and the mission of the military should not suffer because of the weaknesses and character deficiencies of the men who can't handle being around women who are not there to provide them with sex just because they are deployed.